5 Toxic Relationship Patterns To Avoid
Your Family|March 2020
Have unhealthy behaviours left you and your partner feeling as if you’re in a rut? Here’s how to break the pattern and reclaim your relationship

After a long time together, you and your partner develop your own ways of communicating. But sometimes you may develop bad habits along the way, which – left unattended – could negatively affect your bond. Relationship expert Paula Quinsee unpacks the five behaviours you need to stop.

1 Playing the blame game

WHY YOU FALL INTO THIS PATTERN:

Do you find it hard to admit you’re wrong and take responsibility for your actions? Do you invariably blame your partner for everything? Passing blame and never owning up to your own mistakes can become a habit and, in time, turn into a point-scoring exercise which alienates you and your partner from each other.

THE PITFALLS:

‘By blaming your partner for things that go wrong, you avoid being accountable for your own contribution to the situation. This can also negatively affect your children, who’ll internalize the emotional impact of the conflict at home. What’s more, that kind of environment doesn’t teach them essential life skills, like healthy conflict resolution,’ cautions Paula.

BREAK FREE OF IT:

It’s important to resolve conflict in a respectful way, where you both feel heard and are able to find a middle ground. ‘Learn the difference between active and passive listening, as well as how to see things from each other’s perspective,’ says Paula.

2 Bottling up your feelings

WHY YOU FALL INTO THIS PATTERN:

‘When we get into a negative space, we move into survival mode, where we’re constantly trying to protect or defend ourselves. In Imago Relationship Therapy, we identify two common types of people in conflict: “minimizers” and “maximizers”,’ explains Paula.

The minimiser: Under pressure or threat, these people minimize and pull their energy inwards. Think of a tortoise: when they’re feeling threatened, they withdraw into their shell to protect themselves.

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